72 Hours: What to Do in Rome
Rome has two international airports, the favorite being Fiumicino (FCO) which is the biggest, best served and most connected airport in Rome. We flew direct on United in their premium Polaris class complete with lay-flat seats, Saks Fifth Avenue bedding, skincare from Sunday Riley, high-end dining options and exclusive Polaris lounge access. United is the only U.S. airline to offer direct flights to Europe from its hub in SFO with non-stop flights to seven popular European cities this summer. With flights to Rome, Milan, Venice and Naples, United continues to fly to more cities in Italy from the U.S. than any other airline in the world.
What to do in Rome
Rome wasn’t built in a day, but a traveler can accomplish a lot here in 72 hours. A visit here can be daunting for first time visitors. After all, Rome is Italy’s most populated region and third most populated city in the EU. It’s 2,775 years old – basically older than old. With that being said, the historic center is relatively small, very walkable and most of the time feels like a set of villages combined into one expansive capital, so you’ll soak in plenty of small-town charm everywhere you go. Lace up your most comfy walking shoes (my favorites here) and get to stepping. See for yourself in the below itinerary just how much we ate, drank, did and created in a short time. Rome is a mixture of ruins, inspiring art, romance, and street style – and not any of these should be missed.
Fly into FCO in the AM. Taxi to your Airbnb for an (hopefully) early check-in. We stayed here in the center of Campo dei Fiori, an amazing base for Rome, and loved it for our short stay. Whatever you do, remember Travel 101: Don’t fall asleep!
Roscioli for a small slice of pizza + maritozzi pastries to hold you over
Meander around the Campo dei Fiori market for take-home gifts, souvenirs, dried pasta, and clothes! I bought a scarf, a linen summer jumpsuit and a travel adapter because in true Lesley fashion, I forgot one.
Walk to the popular Bohemian neighborhood of Trastevere for Dar Poeta’s pizza. I couldn’t wait to get my hands (and mouth) on a Margherita. Two pizzas and a large water later, our bill was 20 euro. Score.
Walk around the neighborhood and take in its charm. Drink all the espresso for the much needed caffeine. Truth be told, we walked into a church, sat down, and fell asleep on each other’s shoulders. Not our finest moment, but it was a great place for shade and solitude.
Begin your walk to the Colosseum for some “ooohs” and “ahhhs”, wishing that walls could talk the whole time. Walk around it, and then make your way to the path across the street that leads to higher ground for an even better view. Watch the sunset here.
Head to Osteria La Fortunata for dinner. Don’t let the line fool you – it goes quickly, although it certainly helps to get here before 8pm. Order the famous Roman cacio e pepe or carbonara. Our total bill for these two dishes plus a large water? 40 euro.
Wake-up! We never sleep in this late (we’re parents). But jet lag coupled with pregnancy made me do it, and no regrets. I also woke up with pink eye this day and immediately texted our Airbnb host who pointed me towards an AMAZING concierge medical service that offers house calls and online consultations. I got an appointment within 30 minutes of logging onto their website. And a doctor set me up with a prescription which I had in-hand within an hour of texting our host. I highly recommend MedinAction for any medical needs while in Rome.
Head to Barnum Cafe for the best coffee and brekkie/brunch around (42 euro total). I’m serious – it was so good, we tried to eat here twice, but the line was too long the following day. Remember that no matter how it starts, you can be the own architect of your day.
Head to the Tiburtina train station (~30 minute drive from Campo dei Fiori) to embark on the best pasta cooking class of your life! We booked Handmade Pasta for Grandma on Airbnb *last-minute* with no regrets. I’m talking SO last-minute that I had to privately message the host to see if we could still book it because the 3:30pm start time was no longer available on the app. She said if we could make it to the train station in time, come on! We had to RUN to the train platform and arrived as it was pulling up! The cost is $104 per person, and I would highly recommend it as it made for a dinner to remember. There’s something so undeniably special about being invited inside a Roman grandma’s home to make pasta with her and a few other amazing participants!
Get your walking shoes on – today’s a big one! Visit the Trevi Fountain and throw a coin in. Getting here early ensures that it’s not a complete zoo 🙂
Forno brekkie with pistachio croissants. This is a little cafe right next to the fountain where the croissants are widely known!
Colosseum and Roman Forum tour. Walk in the footsteps of gladiators and emperors as you travel back to the era of ancient Rome – a can’t miss. If you don’t have anything set up, try booking on GetYourGuide app or Airbnb Experiences.
Emma for lunch. This was my favorite pizza of the whole trip! We paid 45 euro for two pizzas and two coffees.
Visit the Pantheon and if you’re up for it, I’d suggest doing a guided or an audio tour inside. My mom said it was one of her favorite things when they visited in April, and I’m sad we didn’t carve out some time for it during our 3 days here.
Visit the Spanish Steps, a famous landmark in Rome where it’s fun to people watch, shop and hang out in Piazza di Spagna. There are 138 steps in total and in April/May every year, they’re covered in stunning pink azaleas which we got to see! Even though it was raining at this particular point in the day, the steps looks vastly different than when I saw them 20 years prior. Younger Lesley was also very different as well…as this is where my best friend and I embarked on our very first European pub crawl in a different lifetime!
Take a break from all the walking and tours with nearby Antico Caffè Greco for coffee and cannolis. It’s the oldest bar in Rome and second oldest in Italy.
Walk to the Vatican Museums for a 5:30 tour. We did ours through Airbnb Experiences and absolutely LOVED our guide.
Take a cab from the Vatican because you just walked about 23,000 steps (that’s what my Health app told me after this day!) and either dine at Roma Sparita, Da Enzo al 29 (be prepared for a line), OR walk 10 minutes to Terraza les Etoiles Roma (a stunning rooftop restaurant overlooking St. Peter’s Basilica that we didn’t get a chance to try). At Roma Sparita, Alex ordered the steak and fries while I got the spaghetti la carbonara and arugula/parm salad. It all went down too quickly and so easily after a massive day seeing Roma!
Grab breakfast at Ginger – Acai bowl, smoothies, pancakes. Enough said!
AM Departure – This isn’t goodbye, just see you later!
For next time
The Court (rooftop bar)
Over to you! I know I missed a lot of hidden gems and Roman treasures. Please leave them below for other travelers to research!